How 1 Percent of Your Day Can Make Everything Better

Spending Only 15 Minutes Each Day Taking Stock of Your Life Can Make A World Of Difference.

By Steve Schumacher

As is the case with many people who work for an aggregates operation, you probably feel overwhelmed at the end of most days. Do you look back on each week and wonder where the time went? Do you get to the end of each year and criticize yourself for not achieving your goals?

If you answered yes to these questions, you may not be spending your time in areas of your work and life that have the greatest payoff.

One of the common complaints I hear from people is that they do not have enough time to get things done. I hear this from friends, colleagues and clients, over and over.

Some of the common quick fixes I hear are:

  • When I get more time.
  • I’ll get around to it.
  • When things settle down.

The reality is you are not going to get more time and things will never settle down. Change and disruption are constants and we all get the same amount of time – 168 hours a week. That’s it.

So, the question becomes – How are you using your time, not when are you going to get more time.

In my life, I am like everyone else – busy, busy, busy. One of the things I have found that helps me make it through the day and achieve the things I want to achieve is to block out 15 minutes a day to FOCUS. It is no magic pixie dust, but it does help. I encourage you to take those 15 minutes either at the beginning of the day or just before you go to bed. Some of the things to do during those 15 minutes:

Reflect on the previous day. What went right? What went wrong? What did I learn that I can apply in the coming days? Look at the things you wanted to get done and honestly assess whether or not you did those things. You know what you did and did not do. No one has to tell you that. Pat yourself on the back for the things you did well and put a mental roadmap together for not repeating your mistakes.

Plan for today. I have found that writing down action items is an amazing personal accountability tool. It does not have to be anything fancy. If you can, write down things in both your work and personal life. Try not to make them huge action items; small bite size items are best. Expect interruptions, handle them when they arise, then get back to your list.

Prioritize. A big part of why we do not get the things done we want to get done is our failure to work on the highest priority items. Low priority items tend to be quick and easy to do, so we dive into them. While we are running around taking care of the small things, the most important items are neglected. I use a simple ABC method of prioritizing – A items are MUST ao, B items are SHOULD do, and C items are CAN do. Try to delegate the Cs and Bs and focus your energy on the As.

Learn to breathe. Work on your breathing as a way to reduce stress. Take four deep breaths in a row, holding each one in and breathing out through your nose. You will notice an instant reduction in stress and anxiety. Use this as a quick fix, not a long-term solution.

Think about the big picture. Take a couple minutes to think about what the mission and vision of your company/plant/department is. If you do not know, go find out. Ask yourself if the things you do each day are clearly linked to that big picture. If they are not, create a plan for it to happen. Your A priority items should be a direct link to what your organization is trying to accomplish on a macro-level.

Smile. Can you spontaneously smile during these 15 minutes? A true, happy, smile is a direct reflection of what is going on in our lives. If you have to force a smile, take some time to identify why that is the case. You probably will not be able to address the obstacles you face adequately in 15 minutes, but you can easily determine if your smile is genuine or not.

Taking 1 percent of your day is not much to ask is it, for a better day and life? This is a tiny investment of time each day that will reap huge dividends if you make it a daily habit.